Repost: what has WRC achieved this year


Happy holidays from all of us at World Coffee Research. In our third year, we’ve been busier than ever.

Here’s some of what we did and discovered in 2015:

  • We said it loud and proud: Coffee needs research!
  • We published a major study that pinpoints which of the world’s coffee areas are most vulnerable to climate change. (And we were in National Geographic!)
  • We completed a landmark study of the genetic diversity of Arabica coffee, and unfortunately found it’s one of the least genetically diverse crops in the world
  • To help solve the problem of Arabica’s lack of diversity, we created the Core Collection-a group of the 100 most diverse Arabicas-which will be used in future breeding programs, and is now planted on three research farms in Central America, including the brand-new WCR research farm!
  • We’re using the Core Collection to create new F1 hybrids that will be high producing, tasty, and climate resilient.
  • Meanwhile, we’re trying to understand the varieties we already have. Our years-in-the-making International Multilocation Variety Trial got underway this year, with over 35 top-performing varieties shipping to 16 countries around the world for evaluation. We are going to learn a lot.
  • We had some extra coffee plants laying around, so we set up the first coffee plantation in Texas.
  • The Starbucks Foundation funded a $400,000 project to help coffee leaf rust-affected smallholder farmers in Guatemala replant their farms.
  • A coffee renaissance in Africa? We convened a summit in Nairobi in October to put forward a plan to revitalize Africa’s coffee sector based on getting new technologies into the hands of farmers. Read the proceedings here.
  • We are advancing the science of coffee flavor with the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon

    , a rigorous new tool to evaluate coffee’s sensory qualities. It will be published in January.

  • We put the Lexicon to work in the Colombia Sensory Trial, a comparison of the Castillo and Caturra varieties, chronicled in great depth on the wonderful CRS Coffeelands blog, or in this video.

A look ahead at 2016

We couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead next year, and about the two exciting projects coming right off the bat in January:

  • First, we will be launching a new website with more information about our programs.
  • Second, we will be releasing the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon for free as a PDF download. (Look forward to another email about that in a few weeks!

Also ahead will be much more work on climate change, the launch of an international network of on-farm demonstration trials with new varieties, a variety catalog for Central America (with comprehensive evaluations of varieties using the Sensory Lexicon), a pilot program to ensure that coffee nurseries are producing healthy, genetically pure plants, continued work on the International Multilocation Variety Trial, and much more.

We want to take a moment to specially thank our donor-members, who make possible our work to ensure the future of coffee. If you are not a member, you can join anytime.

Thank you for your interest in our work, and of course we welcome your feedback. You can email with your questions, comments and feedback.

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